Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have stumbled on a rare and surprising find: A very distant spiral galaxy, swirling billions of light years away, which formed at a time when such spiral galaxies were thought to be nonexistent. Researchers say it’s an astounding discovery — partly because it raises some questions about prevailing theories of galaxy formation.
It took nearly a year of high-powered number crunching on various supercomputers, but researchers from UC Santa Cruz and the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Zurich have finally produced a computer simulation of a galaxy that looks much like our own.
While the astronomical community anxiously awaits the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope keeps reminding us just how remarkable of an instrument it really is. Astronomers studying ultra-deep imagery from Hubble have located what could be the most distant galaxy ever glimpsed some 13.2 billion light years away—so far away that the galaxy appears as it did when the universe was just 480 million years old.
So which comes first, the black hole or the galaxy? The questions has vexed astrophysicists for ages, but European researchers think they may have figured out the answer. A recent study suggests supermassive black holes can spawn star formation, in essence creating their own host galaxies around them.